Tourists arriving in New Zealand are set to be stung with a $NZ35 ($A32) levy but Australians will be exempt despite some protest to the contrary.

The country’s government has been mulling a tax on visitors as booming tourist numbers place pressure on infrastructure and the environment.

Government ministers on Thursday confirmed a levy would be set at $NZ35 per visitor. It is expected to raise about $NZ80 million a year.

However, Australians will be exempt – along with Pacific Island residents – and it’s a matter that’s caused some consternation.

While tourism operators have for the most part supported a levy, some have been critical of the exclusion of Australians, saying it’s a mistake to leave out the country’s biggest market.

“This is a significant number of international visitors not having to pay the levy who will still be accessing the same tourism attractions and facilities as those who have paid,” Tourism Export Council chief Judy Chen earlier said.

The levy reflects a long-running debate within New Zealand on the challenge of recent sharp visitor growth, particularly in tourist towns.

“Nature is at the heart of New Zealand’s success,” Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said.

“The money raised through the levy will help improve the protection and enhancement of New Zealand’s distinctive natural environment and improve tourism planning.”

The tourism industry last year passed dairy to become the country’s top export.

In the year to April, some 3.8 million tourists visited New Zealand, a country with a population of about 4.7 million.

Of those, the biggest group were Australians, making up 39 per cent, or nearly 1.5 million visits.

Government documents show trans-Tasman free travel arrangements prompted the carve-out.

The levy is expected to come into law next year.

New Zealand’s government this year also announced it would double the charge for those staying in huts on some of the country’s most popular hikes.

© AAP 2018

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